Saturday, December 3, 2011

December 3, 2011 - 25th Saturday After Pentecost (11th of Luke)

FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:

Zephaniah the Prophet
Our Righteous Father John, Bishop and Hesychast
Holy Martyrs Agapius and Seleucius
Theodore, Archbishop of Alexandria

Τοῦ Ἁγίου Προφήτου Σοφονίου.
Τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρός ἡμῶν Ἰωάννου, Ἐπισκόπου Κολωνίας, τοῦ Ἡσυχαστοῦ.
Τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Ἀγαπίου καί Σελεύκου, καί τοῦ Ἁγίου Ἱερομάρτυρος Θεοδώρου, Ἀρχιεπισκόπου Ἀλεξανδρείας.
Τοῦ Ἁγίου Νεομάρτυρος Ἀγγελῆ (1813).
Τοῦ Ἁγίου Ἱερομάρτυρος Κάρπου Εlb.

READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:

The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians 1:3-10
BRETHREN, grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father; to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen. I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel - not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel of heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ.

Πρὸς Γαλάτας 1:3-10
Ἀδελφοί, χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρός, καὶ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ, τοῦ δόντος ἑαυτὸν περὶ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν, ὅπως ἐξέληται ἡμᾶς ἐκ τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος αἰῶνος πονηροῦ, κατὰ τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν· ᾧ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων ἀμήν. Θαυμάζω ὅτι οὕτως ταχέως μετατίθεσθε ἀπὸ τοῦ καλέσαντος ὑμᾶς ἐν χάριτι χριστοῦ εἰς ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον· ὃ οὐκ ἔστιν ἄλλο, εἰ μή τινές εἰσιν οἱ ταράσσοντες ὑμᾶς καὶ θέλοντες μεταστρέψαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ χριστοῦ. Ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐὰν ἡμεῖς ἢ ἄγγελος ἐξ οὐρανοῦ εὐαγγελίζηται ὑμῖν παρʼ ὃ εὐηγγελισάμεθα ὑμῖν, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω. Ὡς προειρήκαμεν, καὶ ἄρτι πάλιν λέγω, εἴ τις ὑμᾶς εὐαγγελίζεται παρʼ ὃ παρελάβετε, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω. Ἄρτι γὰρ ἀνθρώπους πείθω ἢ τὸν θεόν; Ἢ ζητῶ ἀνθρώποις ἀρέσκειν; Εἰ γὰρ ἔτι ἀνθρώποις ἤρεσκον, χριστοῦ δοῦλος οὐκ ἂν ἤμην.

The Reading is from Luke 12:32-40
The Lord said, "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour."

Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 12.32-40
Εἶπεν ὁ Κύριος· Μὴ φοβοῦ τὸ μικρὸν ποίμνιον· ὅτι εὐδόκησεν ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν δοῦναι ὑμῖν τὴν βασιλείαν. πωλήσατε τὰ ὑπάρχοντα ὑμῶν καὶ δότε ἐλεημοσύνην. ποιήσατε ἑαυτοῖς βαλλάντια μὴ παλαιούμενα, θησαυρὸν ἀνέκλειπτον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, ὅπου κλέπτης οὐκ ἐγγίζει οὐδὲ σὴς διαφθείρει· ὅπου γάρ ἐστιν ὁ θησαυρὸς ὑμῶν, ἐκεῖ καὶ ἡ καρδία ὑμῶν ἔσται. ῎Εστωσαν ὑμῶν αἱ ὀσφύες περιεζωσμέναι καὶ οἱ λύχνοι καιόμενοι· καὶ ὑμεῖς ὅμοιοι ἀνθρώποις προσδεχομένοις τὸν κύριον ἑαυτῶν, πότε ἀναλύσει ἐκ τῶν γάμων, ἵνα ἐλθόντος καὶ κρούσαντος εὐθέως ἀνοίξωσιν αὐτῷ.μακάριοι οἱ δοῦλοι ἐκεῖνοι, οὓς ἐλθὼν ὁ κύριος εὑρήσει γρηγοροῦντας. ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι περιζώσεται καὶ ἀνακλινεῖ αὐτούς, καὶ παρελθὼν διακονήσει αὐτοῖς. καὶ ἐὰν ἔλθῃ ἐν τῇ δευτέρᾳ φυλακῇ καὶ ἐν τῇ τρίτῃ φυλακῇ ἔλθῃ καὶ εὕρῃ οὕτω, μακάριοί εἰσιν οἱ δοῦλοι ἐκεῖνοι. τοῦτο δὲ γινώσκετε ὅτι εἰ ᾔδει ὁ οἰκοδεσπότης ποίᾳ ὥρᾳ ὁ κλέπτης ἔρχεται, ἐγρηγόρησεν ἂν καὶ οὐκ ἂν ἀφῆκε διορυγῆναι τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ. καὶ ὑμεῖς οὖν γίνεσθε ἕτοιμοι· ὅτι ᾗ ὥρᾳ οὐ δοκεῖτε ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἔρχεται.

READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:

Τῇ Γ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Προφήτου Σοφονίου.
Ὁ πρὶν βοήσας τῇ Σιών, Χαῖρε σφόδρα,
Χαίρει, παραστὰς τῷ Θεῷ, Σοφονίας.
Φαίδιμος ἐν τριτάτῃ Σοφονίας ἦτορ ἀφῆκεν.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Ἱερομάρτυρος Θεοδώρου, Ἀρχιεπισκόπου Ἀλεξανδρείας.
Ἐν Πατριάρχαις καὶ Θεόδωρος μέγας,
Κἂν τοῖς ἀθληταῖς τοῖς διὰ ξίφους μέγας.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Θεοδούλου, τοῦ ἀπὸ Ἐπάρχων.
Ἐπαρχίαν γῆς οὐρανῶν ἐπαρχίας,
Ὁ Θεόδουλος ἀντέδωκεν ἐμφρόνως.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Ἰωάννου, Ἐπισκόπου Κολωνίας, τοῦ Ἡσυχαστοῦ.
Οὐχ ἡσυχάζω, καὶ θανόντα γὰρ στέφω,
Τὸν ἡσυχαστὴν Ἰωάννην τοῖς λόγοις.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οἱ ἅγιοι Ἀγάπιος, Σέλευκος, καὶ Μάμας, ξίφει τελειοῦνται
Τρεῖς ἄνδρες, Ἀγάπιος, Σέλευκος, Μάμας,
Πόθῳ Πλάσαντος ἠγάπησαν καὶ ξίφος.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Πατὴρ ἡμῶν Θεόδουλος ὁ Κύπριος ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Μνήμη τοῦ ἁγίου Ἱερομάρτυρος Γαβριήλ, τοῦ Γάνου μὲν ὄντος πρότερον Ἐπισκόπου, ὕστερον δ' ἐν Προύσῃ μαρτυρήσαντος κατὰ τὸ 1659 ἔτος.
Ὁ ἅγιος Νεομάρτυς Ἀγγελῆς, ὁ ἐν Χίῳ ἀθλήσας ἐν ἔτει 1813, ξίφει τελειοῦται.
Ταῖς τῶν ἁγίων σου πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον καὶ σῶσον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.

Σε τούτο ακριβώς το σημείο διαφέρει η δικαιοσύνη των ανθρώπων από τη δικαιοσύνη του Θεού. Οι άνθρωποι, και όταν ασκούν δικαιοσύνη, δύσκολα μπορούν ν' απαλλαγούν από το αίσθημα της εκδικήσεως εναντίον των κακών κι από τη σκέψη πως η τιμωρία της κακίας είναι άμυνα του νόμου και της τάξεως. Ο Θεός μήτε για να εκδικηθή μήτε για να αμυνθή αφήνει να εκδηλώνεται η δικαιοσύνη και η τιμωρητική του θέληση στον κόσμο. Αλλά πάντα ένας είν' ο σκοπός του, ο σωφρονισμός και η επιστροφή του ανθρώπου. Το βλέπομε παραστατικά στους Προφήτας, όπως είναι ο Σοφονίας, ένατος στη σειρά των "ελασσόνων" Προφητών, του οποίου η Εκκλησία σήμερα γιορτάζει την μνήμη. Το βιβλίο του τελειώνει μ' ένα ελπιδοφόρο χαιρετισμό προς την Ιερουσαλήμ, προς τον κόσμο γενικά που δοκιμάσθηκε μέσα στη φωτιά της θείας δικαιοσύνης. "Χαίρε θύγατερ Σιών...περιείλε Κύριος τα αδικήματά σου".
This Prophet, who is ninth in order among the minor Prophets, was the son of Chusi (Cushi), from the tribe of Levi, or according to some, the great-grandson of King Hezekias. He prophesied in the years of Josias, who reigned in the years 641-610 before Christ. His book of prophecy is divided into three chapters. His name means "Yah is darkness."

Apolytikion in the Second Tone
Τού Προφήτου σου Σοφονίου τήν μνήμην, Κύριε, εορτάζοντες, δι' αυτού σε δυσωπούμεν, Σώσον τάς ψυχάς ημών.
As we celebrate the memory of Thy Prophet Zephaniah, O Lord, through him we beseech Thee to save our souls.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
Επαξίως σύνεσιν, προφητικήν γεωργήσας, τήν τού Λόγου σάρκωσιν, προανεφώνησας κράζων, τέρφθητι, Σιών η πόλις η πανολβία, άνακτα, Χρστόν εν πώλω εισδεχομένη, όν δυσώπει Σοφονία, υπέρ τών πίστει μακαριζόντων σε.
Thou wast shown to be illumined by the Divine Spirit, O Prophet Zephaniah, proclaiming God's manifestation, and thou didst preach: Rejoice greatly, O daughters of Sion and of Jerusalem; behold, your King cometh, bringing salvation.

Σε τούτο ακριβώς το σημείο διαφέρει η δικαιοσύνη των ανθρώπων από τη δικαιοσύνη του Θεού. Οι άνθρωποι, και όταν ασκούν δικαιοσύνη, δύσκολα μπορούν ν' απαλλαγούν από το αίσθημα της εκδικήσεως εναντίον των κακών κι από τη σκέψη πως η τιμωρία της κακίας είναι άμυνα του νόμου και της τάξεως. Ο Θεός μήτε για να εκδικηθή μήτε για να αμυνθή αφήνει να εκδηλώνεται η δικαιοσύνη και η τιμωρητική του θέληση στον κόσμο. Αλλά πάντα ένας είν' ο σκοπός του, ο σωφρονισμός και η επιστροφή του ανθρώπου. Το βλέπομε παραστατικά στους Προφήτας, όπως είναι ο Σοφονίας, ένατος στη σειρά των "ελασσόνων" Προφητών, του οποίου η Εκκλησία σήμερα γιορτάζει την μνήμη. Το βιβλίο του τελειώνει μ' ένα ελπιδοφόρο χαιρετισμό προς την Ιερουσαλήμ, προς τον κόσμο γενικά που δοκιμάσθηκε μέσα στη φωτιά της θείας δικαιοσύνης. "Χαίρε θύγατερ Σιών...περιείλε Κύριος τα αδικήματά σου".

Ὁ Προφήτης Σοφονίας
Ἔζησε τὸν 7ο αἰῶνα π.Χ., ἐπὶ βασιλέως Ἰωσίου. Εἶναι ὁ ἔνατος ἀπὸ τοὺς μικροὺς λεγόμενους προφῆτες καὶ καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν φυλὴ τοῦ Συμεὼν ἢ κατ᾿ ἄλλους τοῦ Λευΐ. Τὸ ὄνομά του σημαίνει «ὁ Γιαχβὲ κρύπτει», δηλαδὴ περιφρουρεῖ, προστατεύει. Τὸ προφητικό του βιβλίο διαιρεῖται σὲ τρία μικρὰ κεφάλαια. Στὸ πρῶτο ἀπειλεῖ τοὺς Ἰουδαίους, ποὺ παρεξέκλιναν ἀπὸ τὸν Κύριο στὴν εἰδωλολατρία. Στὸ δεύτερο προλέγει τὴν καταστροφὴ τῆς Γάζας, τῆς Ἀσκαλῶνος, τῆς Ἀζώτου, τῆς Δαμασκοῦ, τῆς Αἰθιοπίας, τῆς Ἀσσυρίας καὶ ἄλλων ἀκόμα χωρῶν. Στὸ τρίτο ἐλέγχει τὴν Ἱερουσαλὴμ γιὰ τὴν διαφθορά της, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὴν ὀνομάζει ἐπιφανῆ, σὰν κοιτίδα λυτρώσεως τοῦ ἀνθρωπίνου γένους. Τέλος, χαιρετίζει μὲ ἀγαλλίαση τὴν μέλλουσα ἐμφάνιση τοῦ Κυρίου στὴ Σιών. Ἀλλὰ ὁ Θεὸς μίλησε μὲ τὸ Στόμα τοῦ προφήτη καὶ νὰ τί εἶπε γιὰ τοὺς ἀνόμους ἀνθρώπους: «Ἐξάρω τοὺς ἀνόμους ἀπὸ προσώπου τῆς γῆς, λέγει Κύριος... Καὶ τοὺς ἐκκλίνοντας ἀπὸ τοῦ Κυρίου καὶ τοὺς μὴ ζητοῦντας τὸν Κύριον καὶ τοὺς μὴ ἀντεχομένους τοῦ Κυρίου». Σοφονίας, Α´ 3, 6. Θὰ ξεριζώσω λέει ὁ Κύριος τοὺς ἀνόμους ἀπὸ τὸ πρόσωπο τῆς γῆς. Καὶ θὰ τιμωρήσω αὐτοὺς ποὺ παρεκκλίνουν ἀπὸ τὶς ἐντολὲς τοῦ Κυρίου, αὐτοὺς ποὺ δὲν ζητοῦν μὲ τὴν προσευχὴ τοὺς τὸν Κύριο καὶ δὲν κρατοῦν Αὐτὸν σὰν στήριγμά τους. Ὁ πρ. Σοφονίας πέθανε εἰρηνικὰ καὶ τάφηκε στὸν τόπο τῶν πατέρων του.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Θεόδωρος Ἱερομόναχος Ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Ἀλεξανδρείας (607-609)
Τὰ θερμά του κηρύγματα, ἡ ζωντανή του πίστη, ἡ ἀκούραστη φιλανθρωπία του πρὸς τοὺς φτωχούς, τοὺς ἀσθενεῖς καὶ τοὺς ἐγκαταλελειμμένους, τραβοῦσαν σὰν δίχτυα μεγάλο πλῆθος εἰδωλολατρῶν καὶ τοὺς ἔφερναν στοὺς κόλπους τῆς χριστιανικῆς Ἐκκλησίας. Γι᾿ αὐτὸ κινήθηκαν μὲ θανάσιμο μῖσος ἐναντίον του οἱ ἱερεῖς τῆς εἰδωλολατρίας, μαζὶ μὲ τοὺς ἄρχοντές τους. Καὶ κάποια μέρα, ὑποκίνησαν πλῆθος εἰδωλολατρῶν, μεταξὺ δὲ αὐτῶν μέθυσους καὶ ἐγκληματίες, καὶ ἐπετέθηκαν κατὰ τοῦ ἀρχιεπισκόπου Θεοδώρου, τὴν στιγμὴ ποὺ ἐπέστρεφε ἀπὸ συνοικία, ποὺ εἶχε πάει μὲ δυὸ ἱερεῖς γιὰ νὰ παρηγορήσει ψυχὲς καὶ νὰ μοιράσει ἐλεημοσύνη. Ἀφοῦ λοιπὸν τὸν ἔπιασαν, τὸν ἔδειραν, τὸν ἔφτυσαν, τοῦ φόρεσαν ἀκάνθινο στεφάνι στὸ κεφάλι καὶ τὸν τριγυρνοῦσαν στοὺς δρόμους καὶ τὶς πλατεῖες. Ὅταν τὸ πληροφορήθηκαν οἱ ἀρχές, ἔστειλαν στρατιωτικὸ ἀπόσπασμα καὶ τὸν ὁδήγησαν στὸν κριτή. Αὐθημερόν, μετὰ τὴν τυπικὴ διαδικασία, ἐπειδὴ ὁ Θεόδωρος ἔμενε ἀμετακίνητος στὴν ὁμολογία τοῦ Χριστοῦ, καταδικάστηκε σὲ θάνατο. Καὶ βεβαίωσε τὴν πίστη καὶ τὴν ἀγάπη του, ἀφοῦ ὑπέστη καρτερικὰ καὶ γενναῖα, ὄχι μόνο τὰ προηγούμενα μαρτύρια, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὸ μαρτύριο τοῦ ἀποκεφαλισμοῦ. Τὸ δὲ τίμιο λείψανό του, τάφηκε στὴ δική του πόλη, τὴν Ἀλεξάνδρεια.

Ὁ Ὅσιος Θεόδουλος ὁ Κύπριος, ὁ σαλὸς
Κύπριος ἀσκητὴς ἄγνωστης ἐποχῆς, ποὺ λόγω τῆς μεγάλης του ἄσκησης, ἀξιώθηκε διορατικοῦ πνεύματος, ὑποκρινόμενος τὸν σαλὸ (τρελό) καὶ ἔλεγχε τοὺς ἀνθρώπους γιὰ τὶς ἀνομίες ποὺ διέπρατταν. Ἔτσι ὁσιακὰ ἀφοῦ ἔζησε, ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά, τὸ δὲ λείψανό του γιατρεύει θαυματουργικὰ πολλὲς ἀσθένειες.

Ὁ Ὅσιος Θεόδουλος «ὁ ἀπὸ Ἐπάρχων»
Ὑπῆρξε πατρίκιος στὰ χρόνια τοῦ Θεοδοσίου τοῦ Μεγάλου (379-395) καὶ ἦταν ἄνδρας διάσημος γιὰ τὴν σύνεση, τὴν ἀρετὴ καὶ τὴν σεμνότητα τῆς ζωῆς του. Ἔτσι προήχθη στὸ ἀξίωμα τοῦ Ἐπάρχου ἀπὸ τὸν βασιλιὰ Θεοδόσιο. Βλέποντας ὅμως τὶς ἀδικίες τῶν ἰσχυρῶν, ἀηδίασε καὶ ἀφοῦ παραιτήθηκε τοῦ ἀξιώματός του, ἰδιώτευε. Μετὰ δυὸ χρόνια ἀπὸ τὸν γάμο του, πέθανε ἡ σύζυγός του καὶ αὐτὸς πῆγε στὴν Ἔδεσσα, ἀφοῦ μοίρασε τὴν μεγάλη του περιουσία στοὺς φτωχοὺς καὶ εὐαγῆ ἱδρύματα. Ἐκεῖ καὶ ἐνῷ ἦταν στὸ 42ο ἔτος τῆς ἡλικίας του, ἀνέβηκε πάνω σ᾿ ἕνα στῦλο καὶ μὲ τὶς πιὸ ἀντίξοες συνθῆκες ἔκανε σκληρὴ ἄσκηση. Ἔτσι, μὲ ἄσκηση καὶ προσευχή, ἀφοῦ ἔζησε γιὰ ἄλλα 40 χρόνια πάνω στὸ στῦλο, ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά.

Ὁ Ὅσιος Ἰωάννης ὁ Ἡσυχαστής, ἐπίσκοπος Κολωνίας
Γεννήθηκε στὴ Νικόπολη τῆς Ἀρμενίας τὸ 454 ἀπὸ τὸν Ἐγκράτιο καὶ τὴν Εὐφημία καὶ ἐπὶ βασιλέως Μαρκιανοῦ (450-457). Μετὰ τὸν θάνατο τῶν γονέων του, οἰκοδόμησε ναὸ τῆς Ὑπεραγίας Θεοτόκου καὶ μόναζε ἐκεῖ, μαζὶ μὲ 10 μοναχούς. Λόγω τῆς μεγάλης του ἀρετῆς, 28 χρονῶν, χειροτονήθηκε ἐπίσκοπος Κολωνίας. Γιὰ ἐννιὰ χρόνια ἀφοῦ διευθέτησε τὰ ἐκεῖ ἐκκλησιαστικὰ πράγματα, πῆγε στὰ Ἱεροσόλυμα καὶ ἐγκαταστάθηκε στὴ Μονὴ τοῦ Ἁγίου Σάββα. Ἐκεῖ ἀπέκρυψε τὸ ἀληθινό του ἀξίωμα καὶ ὁρίστηκε ἀπὸ τὸν Ἅγιο Σάββα σὰν ὑπηρέτης στὸν ξενῶνα καὶ στὸ μαγειρεῖο, ὑπακούοντας μὲ κάθε ταπεινοφροσύνη. Βλέποντας ὁ Ἅγιος Σάββας τὴν μεγάλη του ἀρετή, σύστησε στὸν ἐπίσκοπο Ἱεροσολύμων Ἠλία, νὰ χειροτονήσει τὸν Ἰωάννη Διάκονο καὶ Πρεσβύτερο. Τότε ὁ Ἰωάννης, χωρὶς νὰ μπορεῖ νὰ κάνει ἀλλιῶς, φανέρωσε τὸ ἀξίωμά του καὶ ἔμεινε στὴ Λαύρα 12 χρόνια καὶ στὴ Ῥουθὰ ἕξι χρόνια. Κατόπιν πέρασε ἀσκητικὰ τὰ χρόνια του σὲ διάφορες ἔρημους γιὰ 48 ὁλόκληρα χρόνια καὶ ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικὰ 104 χρονῶν.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Γαβριήλ Ἱερομάρτυρας Πατριάρχης Κωνσταντινουπόλεως

Ὁ Γαβριὴλ ἦταν ἐπίσκοπος Γάνου καὶ Χώρας. Βρέθηκε στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη τὸ 1657 καὶ διαδέχτηκε ἀντικανονικὰ στὸν Πατριαρχικὸ θρόνο τὸν ἀπαγχονισθέντα, ἀπὸ τοὺς Τούρκους, Πατριάρχη Παρθένιο τὸν Γ´. Ἐπειδὴ ὅμως ἦταν ἀγράμματος, μετὰ 12 ἡμέρες, ἔφυγε ἀπὸ τὸν Οἰκουμενικὸ Θρόνο καὶ ἦλθε στὴν Προῦσα, ὅπου ἔγινε προεδρικὸς Μητροπολίτης Προῦσας καὶ παρέμεινε γιὰ 10 χρόνια.Ἐκεῖ κατηγορήθηκε ὅτι ἔφερε στὴ Χριστιανικὴ πίστη κάποιο Μουσουλμάνο καὶ ὁδηγήθηκε στὸ Σουλτάνο καὶ Βεζύρη. Αὐτοὶ ἀξίωσαν ἀπὸ τὸν Μάρτυρα ν᾿ ἀρνηθεῖ τὴν πίστη του καὶ νὰ δεχτεῖ τὸν Ἰσλαμισμό. Μὲ γενναιότητα ὁ Γαβριὴλ ἀπέῤῥιψε τὴν πρόταση αὐτή, μὲ ἀποτέλεσμα νὰ βασανιστεῖ σκληρά. Τελικὰ τὸν ἀπαγχόνισαν στὴν Προῦσα στὶς 3 Δεκεμβρίου 1659.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀγγελῆς ὁ Νεομάρτυρας γιατρὸς ἀπὸ τὸ Ἄργος
Εὐλαβῆς, φιλήσυχος, φιλακόλουθος καὶ εὐσεβῆς ὁ Ἀγγελῆς, ἔκανε τὸ ἐπάγγελμα τοῦ γιατροῦ στὸ Ἄργος. Σὲ κάποια θρησκευτικὴ συζήτηση μὲ ἕναν Γάλλο, ὑπεραμύνθηκε τὴν Χριστιανικὴ πίστη καὶ δέχτηκε νὰ μονομαχήσει χωρὶς ὅπλο μὲ τὸν Γάλλο, ποὺ ἦταν ὁπλισμένος. Ὁ Γάλλος μπροστὰ στὴν πίστη τοῦ Ἀγγελῆ δείλιασε καὶ ὁ Ἀγγελὴς ἀναδείχτηκε καὶ ἐπίσημα νικητής. Μετὰ τὴν νίκη αὐτὴ ὁ Ἀγγελῆς, ἀποφάσισε νὰ μαρτυρήσει γιὰ τὸν Χριστό. Ἐγκατέλειψε λοιπὸν τὴν ἰατρικὴ καὶ κλείστηκε στὸ ὑπερῷο τοῦ σπιτιοῦ του. Ξαφνικὰ ὅμως, ἄγνωστο γιὰ ποιὸ λόγο, τὸ Σάββατο τοῦ Λαζάρου τοῦ ἔτους 1813, ἀρνήθηκε τὸν Χριστὸ καὶ ἔγινε Μουσουλμάνος! Ἐπειδὴ δημιούργησε ἐπεισόδιο σὲ καφενεῖο τοῦ Ναυπλίου, ἐνῷ βρισκόταν μεθυσμένος, οἱ ἀρχὲς τὸν ἐξόρισαν στὴ Χίο. Ἐκεῖ μετανοημένος, ἔβρεχε κάθε μέρα μὲ δάκρυα μετανοίας τοὺς ναοὺς καὶ προσευχόταν. Ἐπίσης ἔδινε ἀφορμὲς στοὺς Τούρκους, ἐπιζητῶντας τὸ μαρτύριο. Κάποτε μπῆκε σὲ κάποιο Τελωνεῖο καὶ ὁμολόγησε ὅτι ἦταν Χριστιανός. Οἱ Τοῦρκοι τὸν ἔδειραν ἀνελέητα καὶ τὸν ἔκλεισαν σιδηροδέσμιο στὴ φυλακὴ τοῦ Κάστρου τῆς Χίου. Ἀλλὰ ἐπειδὴ παρέμεινε σταθερὸς στὴν Χριστιανικὴ ὁμολογία του, ἀποκεφαλίστηκε στὶς 3 Δεκεμβρίου 1813.

Holy Prophet Zephaniah (Sophonias) (7th c. BC)
He is ranked ninth among the Minor Prophets. He lived in Jerusalem in the reign of King Josiah (640-609), and according to some was the great-grandson of King Hezekiah. His name means "The Lord Protects" or "The Lord's watch-post."

Our Venerable Father John the Silent, Bishop of Colonia (558)
He was born into a Christian family at Nikopolis in Armenia. When he was eighteen his parents died, and with twelve other young men he established a small monastery. After a few years, much against his will he was made Bishop of Colonia, but he continued to live the ascetic life of a monk. After nine years of service as bishop, discouraged by the worldliness and intrigue around him, he secretly left for Jerusalem to live as a monk. He was divinely guided to the monastery of St Sabas, who received him and, knowing nothing of his rank, assigned him a lowly place among the new monks. Saint John cheerfully undertook whatever task was given to him and served the other monks in humility and silence. After completing his novitiate he was given a cell where he lived in total silence, fasting five days a week. On Saturdays and Sundays he joined the brethren for prayer, Communion and meals; but even at these times the other monks were edified by his silence and unceasing compunction. Saint Sabas desired to make him a priest and took him to be ordained by the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Saint John asked the Patriarch for a private meeting and explained that he could not be ordained because he was already a bishop. The Patriarch returned St John to St Sabas, telling him only that it was impossible for him to ordain John, who should be allowed to live in silence and solitude. Saint Sabas was perplexed (thinking that some sin prevented the monk from being ordained), but soon received a revelation of John's true rank.
&emps; After many years of reclusion, St John withdrew further to a cave in the desert for nine years. He became known as a divinely-enlightened counselor and a wonderworker, and cheerfully received all who came to him for guidance or prayer. In 509 he returned to the monastery, where he lived as an anchorite in his cell, communicating with the world only through one of his disciples. For many years he lived only on thin porridge, into which he would mix ashes. One day a disciple saw him pouring ashes into his food, and John abandoned the practice, not wanting to be known for the practice of any virtue.
  Once he asked God for a sign revealing whether he would be granted to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Taking a fig-seed, he placed it on a bare rock outside his cell. Without soil or water, the seed brought forth a plant, put forth leaves and flowers, and produced three figs, which St John shared with his disciples. The Saint then made ready for death. He reposed in peace, at the age of 104.

The Prophet Sophonias (or Zephaniah) was a contemporary of the Prophet Jeremiah and the Prophetess Oldama. He was of illustrious lineage [from the tribe of Simeon, and was the 9th of the Twelve Minor Prophets of the Old Testament]. The prophet lived at the royal court, where he preached repentance and helped king Josiah extirpate idol-worship.
He prophesied about the calamities that were to come for the people of Judea and the surrounding regions: Gaza, Ascalon, Crete, and against the Moabites, the Ammonites and the Ninevites.

The Monk Savva of Storozhevsk and Zvenigorodsk in his early youth left the world, accepting tonsure under the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, for whom he was one of the first disciples and co-ascetics.
The Monk Savva loved the quiet life, he shunned conversing with people and he lived in constant toil, in lamentation over the poverty of his soul and remembrance of the judgement of God. The Monk Savva was a model of simplicity and humility, and he attained to such a depth of spiritual wisdom, that "in the monastery of the Monk Sergei he was a spiritual confessor to all the brethren, a venerable starets-elder and exceedingly learned". When GreatPrince Dimitrii Donskoy, in gratitude for the victory over Mamai, built the monastery of the Uspenie-Dormition of the Mother of God at the River Dubenka, Savva became its hegumen, with the blessing of the Monk Sergei. Preserving the simple manner of his ascetic lifestyle, he ate food only of plants, wore coarse clothing and slept on the ground.
In 1392 the brethren of the Sergiev Lavra, with the departure of its hegumen Nikon into the wilderness, besought the Monk Savva to accept being hegumen at the monastery. Here he "did well shepherd the flock entrusted him, such as he could and such as the prayers of his spiritual father Blessed Sergei did aid him". Tradition imputes to his time as hegumen the finding of a spring of water beyond the Lavra walls.
A godson of the Monk Sergei, prince Yurii Dimitrievich Zvenigorodsky, regarded the Monk Savva with great love and esteem. He chose the Monk Savva as his spiritual father and besought him to come and bestow blessing upon all his household. The monk had hoped to return to his monastery, but the prince prevailed upon him to remain and set in place a new monastery, "in his fatherland, near Zvenigorod, where the place was called Storozh". Striving after the solitary and silent life, the Monk Savva accepted the offer of the Zvenigorod prince Yurii Dimitrievich, and with tears before an icon of the Mother of God he besought Her protection for the wilderness place. On the Storozhevsk heights, where formerly was encamped a sentinel, guarding Moscow from enemies, he set up a small wooden church of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God, and not far off from it made a small cell for himself. And here in the year 1399 the monk established a monastery, fondly accepting all that were come for the life of solitude. The monk toiled much at the building up of his monastery. He himself dug out a well below the hill, from which on his shoulders he carried his own water; he encircled the monastery with a wooden palisade, and above it in an hollow he dug out for himself a cell for a life of solitude.
In 1399 the Monk Savva blessed his spiritual son, prince Yurii, to go off on a military campaign, and he predicted victory over the enemy. Through the prayers of the holy elder, the forces of the prince were granted a speedy victory. Through the efforts of the Monk Savva, a stone church of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God was also built.
Saint Savva died at an advanced age on 3 December 1406.
Veneration of the monk by the local people began immediately at his death. The miraculous curative power, issuing from the grave of the monk, and his numerous appearances, convinced everyone that Hegumen Savva "is in truth an unsetting star-radiance of the Divine light, by the shining forth of his miracles illumining all". In a letter of 1539 the Monk Savva is called a wonderworker. Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich had particular esteem for him, repeatedly going on foot to venerate at the monastery of the Monk Savva. Tradition has preserved for us a remarkable account, of how the Monk Savva had saved him from a ferocious bear.
The Life of the Monk Savva, compiled in the XVI Century, relates how at the end of the XV Century (years 1480-1490), the saint appeared to the Savvinsk monastery hegumen Dionysii and said to him: "Dionysii! Wake up and write my face upon an icon". To the question of Dionysii, as to whom he was, came the reply: "I am Savva, the founder of this place". An old starets-elder of the monastery named Avvakum, having in his youth seen the Monk Savva, described the outward appearance of the saint. And it was precisely such as the saint appeared to the hegumen Dionysii, who fulfilled the command and wrote the icon of the Monk Savva.
The feastday of the Monk Savva was established in the year 1547 at a Moscow Sobor-Council. On 19 January 1652 the incorrupt relics of the saint were uncovered.

The Monk John the Silent (Hermit) was born in about the year 454 in the city of Armenian Nicopolis, into the family of a military-commander named Enkratios and his wife Euphemia. The boy early on began to study Holy Scripture and with all his heart he loved solitude and prayer.
With the portion of inheritance coming to him after the death of his parents, the youth John built a church in the Name of the MostHoly Mother of God. At 18 years of age John together with 10 monks lived nearby the church, in fasting, prayer and temperance. At the request of the citizens of the city of Colonia, the Sebasteia metropolitan ordained the 28 year old John as bishop of the Colonia Church. Having assumed ecclesial governance, the saint did not alter his strict ascetic manner of life. Under the influence of the saint in a Christian manner lived also his kinsfolk -- his brother Pergamios (an associate of the emperors Zenon and Anastasius) and his nephew Theodore (an associate of the emperor Justinian).
In John's tenth year as bishop, the governance in Armenia was assumed by Pazinikos, the husband of the saint's sister, Maria. The new governor began forcibly to interfere in spiritual and ecclesiastical matters. Unrest arose within the church. Saint John thereupon set off to Constantinople and through archbishop Euphymios he besought the emperor Zenon to defend the Armenian Church from the churlish enroachments.
Overwhelmed by worldly quarrels, John secretly left his bishopric and sailed to Jerusalem. With tears he besought God to show him the place, where he might live and find salvation. A bright star appeared, which led Saint John to the Lavra monastery of the Monk Sava. John, concealing his bishop's dignity, was accepted amidst the brethren as a simple novice. Under the guidance of the hegumen Saint Sava (Comm. 5 December), the Monk John for more than 4 years fulfilled obedience at very heavy work in the construction of a vagrants home, and of a monastery for newly-made monks. Seeing Saint John's humility and love of toil, Saint Sava reckoned him worthy of ordination to presbyter. But Saint John had happened to reveal his secret to the Jerusalem Patriarch Elias (494-517), and with the blessing of this primate of the Jerusalem Church, the Monk John took a vow of silence. Soon the Lord also revealed Saint John's secret to the Monk Sava. The Monk John spent four years in his cell, receiving no one and not going out even for church.
Desirous of ever greater solitude and increased abstinence, the Monk John quit the Lavra and withdrew into the wilderness, where he spent more than nine years, nourishing himself off of the grasses. Here he survived a devastating incursion of the Saracens and did not perish, only because that the Lord sent him a defender, -- a ferocious lion, at the sight of which the enemy, which more than once seeking to kill the monk, instead scattered in fright. Tradition speaks of many a miracle, effected through the prayer of the Monk John during this time in the wilderness.
When the holy hegumen Saint Sava returned, having for an extended period gone off to Scythopolis, he persuaded the Monk John to forsake the wilderness and again resettle at the monastery. And after this, the Lord in miraculous manner revealed to everyone at the Lavra, that Saint John was actually a bishop.
When the Monk John reached age seventy, his holy and God-bearing spiritual father Saint Sava died. The saint grieved deeply over this demise. Saint Sava appeared to him in a vision, and having consoled him, he foretold, that there was much toil ahead in the struggle with heresy. And actually, Saint John did have to forsake his cell so as to strengthen the brethren in the struggle with the heresy of the Origenists.
The Monk John the Silent spent 66 years at the Lavra of the Monk Sava the Sanctified. By his constant ascetic efforts, by his untiring prayer and humble wisdom, the Monk John acquired the grace of the Holy Spirit: through his prayer happened many a miracle, the secret thoughts of people were discerned by the saint, he healed the sick and the demoniac, and even during his life he saved from certain destruction those invoking his name, and from a fig-tree seed thrown by the saint onto dry soil there sprouted up a beautiful and fruitful tree.
The Monk John the Silent expired to the Lord at age 104 in peace.

THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:

1. The Holy Prophet Zephaniah
Zephaniah was a native of Mount Sarabatha, from the tribe of Simeon. He lived and prophesied in the seventh century before Christ, at the time of Josiah the pious king of Judah. Zephaniah was a contemporary of the Prophet Jeremiah. Having great humility and a pure mind raised to God, he was found worthy of discerning the future. He prophesied the day of the wrath of God and the punishment of Gaza, Ashkalon, Ashdod, Ekron, Nineveh, Jerusalem and Egypt. He saw Jerusalem as a filthy and polluted, … oppressing city…. Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; … her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the Law (Zephaniah 3:1-4). Foreseeing the advent of the Messiah, he enthusiastically exclaimed: Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem (Zephaniah 3:14). This seer of mysteries entered into rest at his birthplace to await the General Resurrection and his reward from God.

2. Saint John the Silent [the Hesychast]
John was a native of Nicopolis in Armenia and was the son of Encratius and Euphemia. He was tonsured a monk at the age of eighteen and lived a strict and resolute life of asceticism, cleansing his heart by his many tears, fasting and prayer. After ten years, he was appointed bishop of Colonia. By his example, he attracted his brother Pergamius and his uncle Theodore-both distinguished men at the imperial courts of Emperors Zeno and Justinian-to a God-pleasing life. Seeing the malice and intrigues of this world and his inability to put matters right, he abandoned his episcopal throne. He disguised himself as a simple monk and went to the Monastery of St. Sava the Sanctified near Jerusalem. There he remained unknown for many years, conscientiously and capably completing every task that the abbot ordered him to do. For this, St. Sava recommended to Patriarch Elias that he ordain him a presbyter. When the patriarch wanted to ordain John, he confessed that he already possessed the rank of bishop. Then St. John closed himself in a cell and spent years and years in silence and prayer. Afterward he spent nine years in the wilderness feeding himself only on wild vegetables, and then he returned to the monastery. He turned the faithful away from the heresy of Origen and contributed greatly to the condemnation and elimination of this heresy. He clearly discerned the spiritual world and healed people from sickness. Having conquered himself, he easily conquered demons. Great in humility, might and divine wisdom, this servant of God entered peacefully into rest in the year 558 at the age of 104.

3. The Hieromartyr Theodore, Archbishop of Alexandria
After functioning as patriarch for two years, Theodore was ridiculed and tortured by the pagans. They placed a crown of thorns on his head and finally beheaded him for his Faith in the year 606.

4. The Venerable Theodulus
Theodulus was an eminent patrician at the court of Theodosius the Great. After the death of his wife, he renounced the vanity of the world and withdrew from Constantinople to a pillar near Ephesus, where he lived a life of asceticism for thirty years.

5. The Venerable Sava of Zvenigorod
Sava was a disciple of St. Sergius of Radonezh and a great miracle-worker. Following his death, he appeared to many as though he were alive, at times teaching them, at times reproaching them and at times healing them. He passed from this life to a better life in the year 1406.

HYMN OF PRAISE
Saint John the Silent
John the Silent, God's laborer,
Walked through the wilderness as a lonely hermit,
Until someone cried out: "The barbarians are coming!
Behold how the dust rises up on the road!
They are near, very near; rise up, rise!"
"Let them be near, but God is nearer!"
John said to him, and did not move.
And when misfortune sought to overtake him,
A lion appeared, sent by God,
And began to fiercely roar at the enemy.
The horde fled; John did not move.
He competed with the severe wilderness,
He competed with her in stillness,
And in dryness and solitude.
"Pascha is coming, how shall we greet it?
What shall we eat on the feast, Father?"
The disciple asked. And John said to him:
"To every creature, God gives food."
When the Radiant Feast of Christ dawned,
An angel suddenly appeared as a man before the saint;
Bread, wine and honey he brought.
The disciple, when he beheld the miracle,
Wept at his lack of faith,
And glorified God and God's saint.

REFLECTION
God hears the prayers of the righteous and fulfills them, sometimes immediately and completely, and at other times only later, at the appropriate time and according to the needs of the Church. In other words, in fulfilling the prayers of the righteous man, God has in mind either the man's salvation or the good of the whole Church. St. John the Silent prayed to God to reveal to him how the soul separates from the body at death. While still at prayer, he was taken outside himself and had the following vision: A good man died in front of a church in Bethlehem, and angels took his soul from his body and carried it to heaven with sweet singing. Coming to himself out of his ecstasy, John immediately set out on the road from the Monastery of St. Sava the Sanctified to Bethlehem. When he reached Bethlehem, he saw the dead body of the man exactly as he had seen it in his vision.
When the great St. Sava the Sanctified died, John grieved and wept. Sava appeared to him in a vision and said: "Do not grieve, Father John, for even though I am separated from you in the body, nevertheless I am with you in the spirit." Then John begged him: "Father, pray to the Lord to take me with you." To this Sava replied: "For now, this cannot be. A great trial has yet to befall the Lavra, and God wants you to remain in the body to comfort and strengthen the faithful against the heretics." At first, John did not know what kind of heretics the holy father had spoken of, but he found out later, when the heresy of Origen began to shake the Church of God.

CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate the sinful fall of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3):
1. How, seeing themselves naked, they covered their nakedness with fig leaves;
2. How, even now, all unrepentant sinners, when they lose a virtue, feel naked and cover their nakedness with some sort of lie or fantasy.

HOMILY
on the two worlds
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1).
Brethren, whatever God desires to reveal to men is revealed, and whatever He does not desire to reveal remains concealed. Moses, the one who beheld God, could say nothing more about heaven than that in the beginning God created it. Having said that, he continued to describe in detail the creation of the earth. Why does Moses not speak in detail about the creation of heaven? Because God did not want to reveal any more to him, since the men of his time were neither mature enough nor capable of understanding heavenly matters beyond their senses. Only when many centuries had passed and God's New Testament had come to men, did God reveal much more of the heavenly world to His faithful and chosen ones. Only Christians began to see the heavens opened. St. John the Theologian bears witness to this: After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven (Revelation 4:1). St. Stephen the Protomartyr witnesses: Behold, I see the heavens opened (Acts 7:56). The Apostle Paul, who was caught up to the third heaven … and heard unspeakable words (II Corinthians 12:2, 4), speaks of the angelic choirs, about the thrones, dominions, principalities and powers, and says: All things were created by Him, and for Him (Colossians 1:16). His disciple, St. Dionysius, describes the celestial hierarchy in as great a detail as Moses describes the earthly world at its creation. This is how the unfathomable wisdom of God wanted it; that which God did not wish to reveal to Moses, He revealed to the apostles and their followers. What could not be told to children is told to mature men. The revelation of mysteries came through spiritual maturity.
Here is a beautiful lesson for us all. Let us be diligent in seeking the truth, still more diligent in purifying our hearts, patient in waiting, and unwavering in faith that God will give us everything in due time, in the way and to the measure necessary for our salvation.
O Lord most-wise and man-loving, Who teaches us and leads us to salvation without rushing and without delay, to Thee, O Gracious One, be glory and praise.
 To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.